Production management refers to the coordination of all activities linked to the development of a commodity and/or service through the translation of inputs into outputs. A study by Alves, J.R.X. and Alves (2015) reveals that production management is an administrative role that plans, organizes, coordinates, directs, and supervises an organization’s material supply and processing activities so that required items are produced using certain processes. This means that its use in the construction sector encompasses a wide range of tasks, such as land acquisition, the purchase and deployment of construction machines, the procurement and storage of raw materials, and the use of employees and construction machinery to complete projects (Harris et al., 2021).
The construction sector in the United Kingdom is one of the country’s largest and most important industries, serving as the cornerstone of the economy that employs approximately 10% of the nation’s workforce (Harris et al., 2021). This industry generates about £90 billion in value added to the country’s economy (Harris et al., 2021). And even though the sector has a global standing for its high-quality buildings, motivating architecture, and world-class design, it is not devoid of criticism. Many of these critics grumble about their dissatisfaction with the resultant quality and also for leaving a huge footprint on environmental sustainability. A study revealed that roughly 109 million tons of construction trash are generated each year, which accounts for close to 24% of total garbage, with 13% of it being delivered but not utilized. Additionally, it produces three times the quantity of rubbish as all of the UK’s households put together.
A research piloted by Jones and Greenwood (2001) revealed that over 90% of non-energy minerals mined in the UK are used to supply materials to the building sector. As a result, it is important to push the construction sector towards conducting its operations using appropriate production management approaches and procedures for it to overcome its flaws. In addition, a study by Moghaddam et al., (2018) showed that many construction projects fail due to poor production management practices. However, except for a few occasions where new procedures have been established, the construction industry periodically experiences problems related to ineffective tools and techniques. This means that the bulk of these techniques are based on outdated concepts, or have been adopted from the manufacturing industry to work in the building and construction sector. This means that many actors within this sector are unable to meet all of the production management requirements. Hence, this study aims to critically evaluate various production management methods and examine their effectiveness, based on this context.
An explicit production theory in construction management has several important functions. A good production theory explains observed behaviour and thus aids in understanding. A hypothesis predicts future behaviour. Thus having a good theory creates a foundation that provides essential tools for assessing, designing, and regulating a given construction process. When shared, a theory provides a common vocabulary or framework for people to collaborate in collective endeavours such as projects, firms, and so on. A hypothesis directs the search for new sources of development. A theory can be thought of as a concentrated piece of knowledge that allows novices to achieve things that previously could only be done by professionals. As a result, having a theory is essential for learning.
When a theory is clear, it becomes easy to test it for validity regularly. First by deriving a theory from the practice; then using it in target conditions; and finally, innovative techniques can also be transmitted to new settings. Therefore, different perspectives offer different approaches. For instance, from the perspective of production management practice, the significance of possessing a theory is critical. This is because its use can result in enhanced performance. In contrast, failure to apply the idea predisposes someone towards poor performance. Furthermore, from a practical standpoint, applying a theory provides an assured force and significance: it serves as the ultimate criterion for practice. This is because the most important feature of a production theory is for it to be perspective: it should show how behaviour contributes to the production goals.
On a much broader level, three activities can be taken in when choosing a production theory: First is the design of the production process. The second is the management of the production process to achieve the anticipated production, and the third is the improvement of the production process. A conference paper titled “A Theoretical Approach to Construction Production Management Proceedings 243 IGLC-7” reveals that there are three types of goals in production (Koskela, 1999). The preliminary goal is having the desired thing(s) to be manufactured in general. The second goal is to develop key objectives that relate to the features of the production process, for instance, reducing cost and utilization (internal goals), and also maximizing production processes. The third goal is to connect the product (e.g. construction of a university library at Anglia Ruskin) to the needs of a customer, for instance, quality, versatility, and dependability (external goals).
Therefore, below are theoretical perspectives used in production processes within the Construction industry:
PRODUCTION AS TRANSFORMATION
The 20th century witnessed the domination of the transformational view of production. This view was the foundation of both the traditional production template and the operations management ideology. The transformation model functioned as the theoretical framework for scientific management, mass production (in its broadest sense), and the modern corporation, all of which began at the turn of the century, as well as modern production control and project management, which emerged in the second half. A study by Turner (2018) asserted that project scope management was the raison d’être of project management. In that, the scope of a given project was defined by the statement of its work. Turner defined scope management as follows: (1) a suitable (or sufficient) workload should be completed; (2) needless work should be avoided, and (3) the completed work should achieve the specified business goal. Hence, it is clear that project management is uniquely dependent on the transformational concept and its tiered breakdown proposition.
Looking back at the roots of this perspective, one finds that it was anchored on the “Walrasian production model”. It was a model that depicted transformational production as akin to putting up production factors that ensured that a product progressed from being a raw product (e.g. sand, ballast, cement, and theoretical designs) into a finished product (For instance, a completed building). Therefore, this theory is made up of technical constants that equates the ratio of transformation between the amount of a specified production factor and the amount generated by a given product. This means that a construction setup such as a new library at the Chelmsford campus should follow a production graph that defines the work to be accomplished. Then there is a resource graph that defines how resources can be ordered or combined through a social structure and physical layout. Subsequently, the project has to bear in mind how activities should be controlled (Like for instance adopting the modern-day approach of using BIM to develop smart buildings). And so, a dynamic control model should be applied to the production process to coordinate and synchronize the allocation of resources to products. Indeed, the relationship between the production graph (P-graph) and resource graph (r-graph) ensures that work orders are well-managed.
PRODUCTION AS FLOW
A study by Kumar et al., (2020) indicates the product-process matrix is the backbone for describing alternative business and production approaches. The author hypothesizes that all manufactured products lie on a near diagonal line in a 2-D matrix characterized by an alignment of product structure and process structure. For instance, there should be an alignment between low-volume to high-volume products and a process structure that range from a jumbled flow to a continuous flow. Using this matrix, the construction of the Chelmsford campus library stands as a one-of-a-kind product that has a much-jumbled flow with various parts of the construction process loosely linked. However, using this view is very narrow, and only suits other self-fulfilling prophecies. This is because the project is also composed of various distinct spaces that possess certain similarities, thus it can be described as a line flow or a batch flow. Additionally, when one takes an operational view, (for instance as a subcontractor) then he or she might consider it a line flow.
In doing so, this theory has several behaviours and controls. They include the following;
This law postulates a formula that relates to the cycle of time and the amount of work done in a given production line.
Cycle time = Work in progress/ Throughput
This means that by decreasing the amount of work in progress, then the cycle time would be minimized, so long as the throughput remains constant. Hence this control would be useful when two of the three variables are known, and the third one needs to be calculated.
Capacity refers to the maximum rate of output of a process. Or can also be defined as the maximum flow rate that can be sustained over some time. A good example of capacity is when five delivery trucks delivering cement to the construction of a new library decides to carry 20 tons of cement each, yet 4 trucks can carry 25 tons each and save on extra fuel.
Cycle Time Reduction
Cycle Time can be described as the time needed for a given material to move through the flow. Therefore, when using a lean production method in construction there is a need to eliminate non-value-adding time. For instance, removing inventories, minimizing distances between workstations, and minimizing redundancies.
Bottlenecks are situations where the capacity of the entire production process exceeds the capacity of the most constraining resource. Thus Process capacity = minimum (capacity resource (1) …capacity resource (n))
PRODUCTION AS TRANSFORMATION-FLOW-VALUE GENERATION
This theory uses three interdependent angles to production in construction. First, through the use of resources and workers, second, through material orientation, and finally through customer orientation. Therefore, by integrating the three perspectives, a construction manager should be able to balance the prescriptions from all three perspectives; take care of the interaction between phenomena covered by the three perspectives; finally, be able to use these perspectives interchangeably. However, rather than being handled by the theory itself, the integration must be handled by the operator of the TFV theory. Because it isn’t clear how the three models can be brought together, one approach is to explore for explanations why they are contradictory – perhaps understanding these reasons can lead to new directions (Bølviken, Rooke and Koskela, 2014). Metaphysics is a good location to begin your research. Is it possible that all of TFV’s partial theories are metaphysically coherent? To begin, define transformation in metaphysical terms. On the surface, transformation appears to be linked to change and transformation, but let’s dig deeper.
In economics, transformation is a relation between outputs and inputs. The terms “things” and “matter” are commonly used to describe both input and output. Except that we can break the transformation into other transformations, it’s a black box (tasks). By leaping from a one-time instance, represented by a collection of items, to another time instance, represented by a different set of things, the transformation model solves the issue of representing change. As a result, the traditional notion of production is based on and effectively equals, thing-based metaphysics. The alternative perspective of production considers it to be a non-decomposable, continuous activity, but various portions can be identified (Bølviken, Rooke and Koskela, 2014). “Every action, every task is part of a process.” Any process will be divided into stages using a flow diagram. The procedure is made up of all stages. The stages aren’t separate entities…” The flow design and the value generation design (production is the conversion of a – specific – customer’s requirements into products that satisfy them) both take a dynamic approach to these issues, but neither fully exhaust it. As a result, we must recognize that the presumptions of the three TFV sub-theories differ fundamentally on an ontological level. The transformation theory, for instance, is based on item metaphysics, whereas the flow and value generation theories are founded on process metaphysics.
SYNTHESIS OF PRODUCTION THEORIES
Until the 1980s, production was handled based on the transformation view. Unfortunately, this basis of production was an idealization, and the related idealization error became unacceptably big in complicated production environments. There are two major flaws: it is not acknowledged that there are more variables in production than transformations; it is not understood that it is the output’s conformance to the customer’s needs, not the transformation itself, which makes it useful. In reality, the transformation perspective only addresses the first of Turner’s three questions. The transformation theory is crucial in assessing which tasks are required in a project, thus initiatives based on this viewpoint are entirely feasible. The transformation theory, on the other hand, isn’t really useful for determining how to avoid wasting resources. The concepts of the flow view, on the other hand, describe how, for example, production unpredictability affects resource utilization. And with the introduction of the TFV model, construction management has become much easier as it provides additional tools to leverage during the construction process. Nonetheless, this paper sticks with the flow theory of production in evaluating the effectiveness of various production methods.
TYPES OF PRODUCTION METHODS AND THEIR EFFECTIVENESS IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
“Lean Construction” has been one of the foundation concepts of production management and has been instrumental in boosting productivity by decreasing the amount of wastes generated during construction, both in terms of expense and time spent. According to Koskela (2002) who was the leading promoter of lean production, he/she defined lean construction as little more than a method for designing a production method in such a manner that waste, both in terms of resources and time, can be reduced to obtain the greatest value. Thereby, lean construction can simply be described is a philosophical style for a operationalizing a construction firm, and not just a saving strategy. Even though it is impossible to identify the limits of Lean’s potential, a study by Dave et al., (2015) drew some important principles for competently pushing the Lean thinking phenomenon. According to him, finding and developing a product that adds value to a client’s needs is vital in order to provide consumer contentment of their preferences at a specific time and for a reasonable price. Furthermore, the author insists on identification of the important measures that allow for an efficient production line flow, as well as the quasi phases that spend so much money and time, and strive to remove them. Remove phases that cause disruption, delay, backflow, or interruptions in the workflow to create more efficient operations.
According to Womack and Jones (2003), the concept of customer pulls entails delivering only what is necessary and preventing oversupply, hence reducing resource waste. Finally, he cited perfection as a critical component of lean thinking, which can be achieved by continuously reducing successive layers of waste as soon as they are identified. To put it another way, Womack argues that Lean is a never-ending process in which there is always the potential for progress in terms of quality (Value) and waste reduction. This is because the business, customers, and environment never stays the same for a long time, they change over time. For example, customers may seek out new, better, and cheaper products, or new technologies may emerge that are more efficient, or traditional sources of raw materials and components become less reliable, and new supply sources emerge, strategies must be adjusted accordingly. The purpose of lean and sustainable building is to reduce as much waste as possible.
A study by Nahmens and Ikuma (2012) found some extremely encouraging results. According to their observations, Lean construction had a substantial environmental impact of 64 per cent reduced material waste, had a big social impact of decreasing key safety hazards of excessive force, and also possessed a significant economic impact of 31 per cent reduced production hours. And despite the fact that several nations around the globe have exacted substantial benefits by implementing Lean Construction (LC) concepts, studies by Sarhan and Fox (2013) show that the UK construction industry has only adopted a lean approach in the last two decades, despite the publication of the Egan report “Rethinking Construction,” a report that was predestined to address concerns expressed by clients using construction companies’ services. Sarhan and Fox, (2013) further postulates that one of the most major roadblocks to lean practice is financial worries. The author insisted that appropriate financing was required to encourage workers, supply necessary equipment, and hire lean experts to assist businesses and workers in implementing the lean concept. Acoording to Forbes and Ahmed (2010), an aversion by employees towards Lean Construction arises from a fear of change, a perceived loss of authority, and an unwillingness to take “responsibility” and commit to change. Furthermore, there are additional hurdles which include perceived challenges to foreman and project management positions; a lack of understanding of what Lean is, especially on the job site; insufficient training; and fear of job loss (Forbes and Ahmed, 2010).
Another type of production management method that can be utilized in the construction industry by reducing waste output in terms of time, money, and unused space is JIT production management (Warehouses, store-yards). JIT is a manufacturing method in which things are produced in response to demand instead of in advance. Toyota’s Taichi Ohno and his colleagues were the first to develop the JIT process. Overproduction, transportation, waiting time, processing itself, having too much stock on hand, using unnecessary movements (relocations), and producing defective products were all identified as wastes in mass production systems by Ohno (Aljunaidi and Ankrak, 2014). Despite the fact that the terms JIT and Lean Production are often used simultaneously, they are not synonymous. According to Bamana, Lehoux and Cloutier, (2019) JIT production is a management paradigm that prioritizes efficiency, whereas lean manufacturing focuses exploiting efficiency to add value to the customer’s product. If JIT is successfully applied in the built environment industry, inventory levels, operational expenses, storage space, factory overhead, and rectification charges will all be reduced, resulting in improved quality and lower overall costs. On the other hand, the benefits of JIT can only be achieved if all participants in the construction industry’s supply chain collaborate. They must all understand the purpose, the basics of the JIT method, and their individual roles in order to ensure the effective adoption of the JIT system. Otherwise, due to a lack of trust and commitment, the JIT method will be unable to function. Without a doubt, no client apprehensive about a supplier’s failure to provide critical goods on time and in the right amounts and volumes will choose the JIT technique.
BUSINESS PROCESS RE-ENGINEERING (BPR)
Business process re – engineering is a management method that challenges a company to rethink how it does business. The goal of BPR is to encourage the client to employ newer, more efficient practices in order to reduce waste output in terms of both time and money while also fulfilling the customer’s objective of delivering a higher-quality final product. Dachyarm and Sanjiwo (2018) described business process reengineering (BPR) as the rethinking and re-designing of organizational processes to improve quality, services, cost, and time. On the one hand, some regard the BPR strategy as a way of introducing drastic change to a firm in order to cope with more volatile situations and produce big performance increases, while others see it as useless and destructive to their companies. The ultimate test and difficulty of this strategy is executing it in a decentralized and project-based construction industry (Madane and Joshi, 2018). According to Sungau, Ndunguru and Kimeme (2013) BPR had to be concerned not just with the distribution method, but also with the definition of what was to be supplied in order to truly represent the client’s eventual value. Today, the building industry must reconsider and investigate the standardization of construction materials; the construction industry should be transferred from the upper-left to the lower-right corner of a production-process matrix, making the entire construction process faster and less expensive. According to Robson and Ullah (1996) standardization is described as the extensive use of components, processes, methods, and techniques with consistency. Instead of cast-in-situ concrete, pre-cast concrete panels should be encouraged to be utilized in construction projects. This might pave the way for more prompt production and delivery services, which would boost productivity, save money and energy, and potentially minimize construction waste. The debate about harmonizing window and door sizes and specifications in related types of constructions can also be handled by BPR. Large-scale items are produced and supplied to sites in less time and at a cheaper price, and production repetition can enhance quality over time. Anderson (2020) believes in standardization and its benefits. Ordering massive volumes and quantities of components and supplies, he claims, ensures frequent deliveries and on-time operations. Unfortunately, many workers in the construction industry are accustomed to using old methods. A lack of information and a phobia of bringing about “change” have impeded an effective BPR endeavor. Alternatively, the construction industry can benefit in certain way if the appropriate mentality is adopted.
BUILDING INFORMATION MODELING (BIM)
Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a relatively recent technical method for decreasing wastage and cutting costs on construction projects. It is a means for everyone involved in a construction project (building, road, canal, etc.) to view and understand it; a 3-D virtual model of the project is created utilizing a digital management approach, and it includes all information. The terms 4D, 5D, 6D, and 7D are often used to describe the features and benefits of increasingly advanced BIM models. BIM can be characterized in terms of maturity stages as well. BIM, which is three-dimensional, can incorporate virtual building modeling in 4D (time), 5D (cost), and 6D (sustainability), as well as all aspects of facility life-cycle management (7D). Even if no post-construction flaws exist, it is difficult, if not impossible, to find a created asset that functions exactly as intended (Especially in terms of energy efficiency). Creating a three-dimensional model ahead of time can help not only verify that every component of the design is proper and on schedule, with no clashes, but it can also help to reduce waste in terms of time and money before we even reach on site. Because BIM technology offers the most efficient and effective means to improve efficiency and productivity across the building sector, the UK administration has taken some major moves toward deploying BIM across the construction sector in the next years. According to the study on the UK government’s construction strategy, beginning in 2016, BIM will be mandatory on all public sector contracts, and it will become an integral part of the government’s procurement process (Ghaffarianhoseini et al 2017). The construction industry in terms of the future is unmistakably digital, and BIM symbolizes long-term facility management as well as the future of design.
In the construction industry, the construction manager (CM), who functions similarly to a production or operational manager in other industries, must be familiar with production management methods and methodologies. This is because achieving the ultimate goal of creating a better-quality end product while reducing waste production in terms of cost and time is not only significant, but a fundamental obligation of a construction manager, and this is certainly plausible by incorporating production management techniques. Otherwise, the construction industry will be unable to join the ranks of other rapidly improving industries by adhering to old standards, trends, and a fear of introducing change into their businesses.
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